Surprise! Cinnamon Rolls

There is a joke something to the effect of how do you know someone is a vegan, don’t worry they’ll tell you.  I have a friend that I get together with occasionally for brunch or lunch and we do need to be aware of where we eat since she is vegan and has food sensitivities and I’m totally happy to work with that.  Recently we were planning to get together for brunch and had planned the weekend of Easter but rather than risk long waits for a table I offered to make something at my house.

The Best Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan)

Now, I’m not a baker at all.  I rarely eat sweets and try to keep a limited pantry of bread at home because I love it so much and would eat way too much.  But I’m always up for a cooking challenge! I ended up finding a recipe for Gluten Free Vegan Cinnamon Rolls where I didn’t need to buy specialty ingredients I wasn’t likely to use again. The only things that were out of the ordinary for me was the gluten free flour, which I used up for the recipe, and the Earth Balance baking sticks (red box so they were soy free) and I’ll use those again.

As life happens, I ended up using some regular flour (which my friend can’t eat) because I only bought 4 cups of gluten free, and needed way more than 4 cups, and we ended up changing plans to a chat over coffee in the early afternoon.  So I decided to take the cinnamon rolls to a pot luck I was going to.  I put them out on the table with the rest of the food, didn’t tell anyone they were soy free, gluten free (mostly), or vegan and they went like hotcakes!!  I’ll admit I love doing things like this and serving lower fat, lower sodium, etc. food to people without telling them, because they’re almost always surprised and end up enjoying the food just as much as the “real” version.  I did end up telling the host later in the day, and am so glad I did because it turned out one of the ladies there was vegan and was so excited that she could eat them.  That being said, I would never serve something to someone I knew they were sensitive to (e.g., I would never serve animal products to a vegan friend, or gluten to a gluten free friend).

My message here is don’t be afraid to try things that are a little out of your comfort zone.  If I didn’t tell anyone the cinnamon rolls were vegan they would have loved them and never known they were vegan. If I didn’t try making them, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of seeing everyone at the pot luck enjoying them.  And of course, I actually do appreciate knowing what my friends can and cannot eat, so I can have the pleasure of making something that they can enjoy just as well.  Below is the recipe I used, along with my notes.  Please share your experience with making special recipes, would love to know what ended up being successful for you!

The Best Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan)

You’ll never know the difference!

Credit: She Likes Food


2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)

6 Tbsp unsalted non-dairy butter (I used the Earth Balance baking sticks in the red box so they were also soy free)

1 (1/4 oz) package rapid-rise instant yeast

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups gluten free 1:1 baking flour

  • Recipe calls for Bob’s Red Mill brand but I could only find Arrowhead Mills so that is what I used.
  • Recipe calls for 4 cups; I ended up using at least 6 cups because the dough was still sticky after adding 4 cups plus I needed some for rolling out the dough, so I would recommend having 8 cups on hand. My gluten free friend confirmed that she almost always needs more gluten free flour than the recipe calls for.


¼ cup unsalted non-dairy butter

½ cup light brown sugar (I only had dark brown sugar; you can use a 1:1 mixture of dark brown sugar + granulated sugar to equal ½ cup light brown sugar)

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp ground cinnamon


½ cup powdered sugar

1 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)



  1. Heat almond milk and non-dairy butter until melted. Add to a large bowl and cool to 110 degrees F.
  2. Once cooled add yeast packet, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Add sugar, salt, vanilla extract and let sit for another minute.
  4. Add flour to mixture ½ cup at a time and stir well between each addition. Keep adding flour until dough forms a ball that isn’t sticky.  It may take more or less than 4 cups (in my experience it took almost 6 cups).  You won’t need to knead the dough, as kneading is to activate gluten (which gluten free flour does not have).
  5. If making the dough the night before, STOP, and refrigerate. Take out dough 1-1/2 to 2 hours before using the next day. IMG_20190504_161924
  6. Let dough sit in a warm place ~1 hour to rise.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl.
  9. Lightly flour work surface and roll dough until ¼” thick ~20” x 15” making sure edges are straight. You may need to cut the edges to make them straight.
  10. Spread dough with softened non-dairy butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  11. Take the long edge and roll the dough.IMG_20190504_163025
  12. Cut roll into 1” pieces and place into medium cast iron skillet or baking dish.
  13. Bake 20-25 minutes.
  14. Mix glaze ingredients together. Top rolls with glaze.


One comment

  1. I love this blog. I have made special recipes for friends that included lasagna for gluten free vegan friends years ago before the abundance of great alternatives became available. It was fun to be creative. I was so nervous as they tasted the food and when they smiled, I thought I hit the jack pot. I remember carefully going over the ingredients to ensure that I was following their guidelines. Your blog just brought back that amazing memory! Taking risks is so vital to our appreciation of the diversity that is all around and within us!


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